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Press Releases

Pro-Retention Group Lauds TCU Support for Supremes

Press release from Keep TN Courts Fair; July 29, 2014:

The leadership of the Tennessee Conservative Union voiced their support for Tennessee Supreme Court Justices Gary Wade, Sharon Lee and Cornelia Clark in the upcoming retention election. TCU Chairman Lloyd Daugherty and Executive Director Kelvin Moxley cited the justices’ fidelity to the state and federal constitutions as sufficient reason to retain the three members of Tennessee’s highest court.

“Both Kelvin and I believe that partisan politics should not be a part of judicial selections. The current effort to unseat these three fine jurists is not borne out of some notion of a continued pattern of power usurpation or rogue judicial conduct. Indeed, the stated reasons for opposing them have nothing to do with their rulings or conduct,” said Daugherty.

Daugherty said, “Partisan politics should not enter into the court system. To allow such undermines the rule of law that is so vital to an orderly and civil society and launches us down a road traveled by Boss Crump and Tammany Hall where justice is dispensed based on what political party you support.”

While we realize that this position is different from our dear friend Ron Ramsey (who will be inducted into the TCU Conservative Hall of Fame) and Lt. Governor Ramsey has accomplished an amazing amount for conservatives, we also recognize that when one party holds all the power, whether it is Republican or Democrat, problems will arise.

TCU has always looked favorably upon conservatives of all stripes, whether Democrat, Republican, or Independent, who support and advance conservative policies and respect for the Constitution. There are a lot of new people involved in politics, and they need to look back at TCU’s record. TCU has shown that the old way of choosing good judges can work.

In 1996, the Tennessee Conservative Union led the fight against sitting Supreme Court Justice Penny.

White over her failure to uphold the death penalty and the constitution. She subsequently lost the retention vote and was removed from the court. We do not see this sort of rejection of the Constitution by this court, thus can see no reason not to retain these three justices.

TCU is the oldest conservative organization in the state, and was founded during the Reagan primary campaign of 1976.

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Press Releases

Scenic Vistas Protection Act Dies in Senate Committee

Press release from the Tennessee Democratic Party; March 20, 2013:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Rep. Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) pledged to carry on her fight to protect Tennessee’s mountaintops and the state’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry despite this year’s special interest setback in the state legislature.

Rep. Johnson’s companion bill — the Scenic Vistas Act, a measure that would prohibit mountain top removal above 2,000 feet in Tennessee — died Wednesday in the Senate Energy, Agriculture, and Natural Resources Committee.

“It’s clear that big special interests control too many politicians in legislature,” Johnson said. “If we do nothing to protect our mountaintops, we will be left with nothing. Our irreplaceable mountains will be destroyed, the economic benefits will be shipped to China, and our multi-billion dollar tourism industry will be left in shambles.”

According to MarketWatch, Guizhou Guochuang Energy Holding Company, based in Guiyang, Guizhou China, is the “first Chinese company to invest in coal in America,” The Chinese corporation now owns 30,000 acres of East Tennessee ridgelines.

The Scenic Vistas Act would protect East Tennessee mountain ranges from the destructive practice of mountaintop removal employed by coal companies, including Guizhou Guochauang Energy Holding’s Tennessee-based operations.

Mountaintop removal not only kills tourism jobs, but it eliminates coal-mining jobs, too, because it requires fewer employees to blow up a mountain, Johnson said.

“It’s past time the politicians who run the legislature put the interests of everyday Tennesseans above the concerns of corporate special interests,” Rep. Johnson said. “Regardless of today’s outcome, we will carry on this fight. As long as there are mountains in Tennessee, I will be standing beside the business owners and families who are working to protect our mountains for the future.”

BACKGROUND:

“We are what you might say a Chinese company.” “Triple H’s operations manager, Alex Housley, said in a telephone interview that the family owned company is being sold (to Guizhou Guochuang Energy Holding Company, based in Guiyang, Guizhou China). [Timesfreepress.com, 3/20/13]

Guizhou Guochuang Energy Holding raised $616 million to acquire and develop Triple H Coal, which operates in Jacksboro, Tenn. According to MarketWatch, “This is the first Chinese company to invest in coal in America.”

Chinese Company Owns 30,000 Acres of Tennessee Mountaintops. With this corporate acquisition, Guizhou Guochuang Energy Holding Company now owns 30,000 acres of mineral rights. [triplehcoal.com, accessed 3/20/13]

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Conservative Group Backs Effort to Ban Mountaintop Mining

Legislation to protect Tennessee’s mountains has new, if somewhat unexpected, support: the Tennessee Conservative Union.

Citing the involvement of the “Red Chinese” in mountaintop removal mining, the conservative organization has launched a statewide media effort to ban the harvesting of coal by blowing the tops off Tennessee’s mountains.

“Tennessee has become the first state in our great nation to permit the Red Chinese to destroy our mountains and take our coal,” a gravelly, male voice warns in the ad released by the TCU, alluding to a Chinese company reportedly indicating an intention last year to invest in the Tennessee-based Triple H Coal Company.

According to the company’s website, Triple H is “one of the fastest growing coal mining operations in the Tennessee Coal Mining Reserve. We supply the increasing demand for clean coal energy to the U.S. domestic market as well as rapid expanding emerging markets such as China. Triple H’s Tennessee mines cover a surface area of over 30,000 mineral acres and consist of nine seams that are located throughout the Tennessee Coal Reserve.”

An email to the company asking for comment went unanswered.

The conservative Tennessee group joins environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Appalachian Voices in pushing back against mountaintop removal.

Appalachian Voices is eager to work with “anyone who supports protecting Tennessee’s mountains,” said JW Randolph, director of the Tennessee branch of the environmental group.

“From my perspective, we don’t care if they’re from China or Chattanooga – they can be from anywhere. Blowing up mountains is a bad idea,” Randolph said. “The fact that everybody from the most liberal and progressive people in the state support protecting our mountains, and the most conservative people in our state support protecting our mountains, I think, gives me a lot of hope.”

The “Scenic Vistas Protection Act,” HB43/SB99, sponsored by Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, and Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, would seek to prevent mountaintop removal operations by prohibiting the issuance of water quality control permits for certain projects. The bill would affect projects altering ridgelines at an elevation higher than 2,000 feet above sea level.

That’s on the low end of the height range for the Great Smoky Mountains, which range from 875 feet to 6,643 feet – the elevation of Clingmans Dome.

According to the bill, previously issued permits for mountaintop removal activities could only be renewed by the original applicant. The measure doesn’t expand or change the allowed surface area of mining operations or previously allowed actions and is not otherwise against the law. The bill also does not allow permits to be transferred from one person to another.

Although both the bill’s primary sponsors are Democrats, it appears to have at least some bipartisan support. Two Republicans in the House have signed on as co-prime sponsors: Bill Dunn, of Knoxville, who has been honored as the TCU Legislator of the Year, and Bob Ramsey of Maryville.

Gloria JohnsonGloria Johnson

“I think that the citizens – the majority of citizens of Tennessee – are supportive of that bill and don’t want to see any more mountaintop removal,” Johnson said.

During the 2012 legislative session the bill was sent to a summer study panel, where no action was taken on it.

The bill, important because of its intent to “preserve” one of the state’s “greatest assets,” has been heard before the state Legislature in various forms over the last three years, said sponsor Sen. Lowe Finney, of Jackson.

“What you’re seeing is a lot of people realize that this is an issue that can be addressed, that should be addressed and people from all over the state are taking an interest in it,” said Finney, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Coal could be mined more responsibly, and it would benefit Tennesseans to not destroy and desecrate one of the powerful symbols of the state’s history, said Charles White, an active member of the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club. He added that coal can be mined in other ways that would provide more jobs and be more “environmentally” cost-effective.

“It’s high time for our elected officials to give this legislation a chance to be discussed by the full House and Senate,” White said.

The Scenic Vistas Act is scheduled to be heard in both the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources committee and the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee Wednesday.

Rep. Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, and Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, also have a bill (HB0875/SB1139) that aims to stem water pollution from surface mining. The bill would prohibit the issuance of permits that allow mining waste within 100 feet of any stream’s high water mark. The bill has not been scheduled for a hearing.

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NewsTracker

Ethics Complaint Filed Against DesJarlais, GOP Weighs Call For Resignation

Embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is facing a possible state inquiry into whether he violated medical ethics based on revelations that DesJarlais, a doctor, may have had a sexual relationship with a patient.

The left-leaning Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Tennessee Department of Health Monday.

Read the complaint here.

On the heels of that complaint, the Tennessee Conservative Union said it was in talks with GOP groups to decide whether to call on DesJarlais to resign from Congress.

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The chairman of the Tennessee Conservative Union said Monday he’s talking with other Republican-leaning groups and exploring whether to demand U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., resign from Congress.

The move comes as the 4th Congressional District lawmaker and candidate finds himself under growing fire following revelations that as a physician 12 years ago he pressed a former patient with whom he had been involved sexually to get an abortion. 

Tennessee Conservative Union Chairman Lloyd Daugherty in an interview declined to identify the other organizations with which he has been speaking. He said his goal is building a “coalition” in support of the congressman’s ouster.

On Friday DesJarlais’ opponent in the race to capture Tennessee’s 4th District Congressional seat, Democrat Eric Stewart, held a press conference at Legislative Plaza saying that both Republicans and Democrats should condemn DesJarlais’ actions.